You know those irritating people and situations in life? The ones that pop up probably on a daily basis and instantaneously make our hair stand on end, that immediately slither under our skin? Those scenarios and acquaintances that, in a moment’s notice, have the power to disrupt our sense of calm? The ones that never get old in their annoying-ness and can always, somehow, just make us so damn irritable?!
You know what I’m talking about. Well, I’m calling for us to take our power back.
Because, you know what? Those people are never going to go away. Those situations are never going to stop manifesting. We are the ones that have to change. Not ourselves, but our perspectives.
It took me some time to figure this little one out – I know, I know, it seems like common sense, right? – I kept running into the same glass walls. A person at work would be doing something technically against the rules, day in and day out, and I’d think, maybe I should complain to management and they’ll set them straight. I began to take their minor, insignificant rule-breaking personally (because that’s going to help!) and found myself seething every time I’d witness their misconduct. In reality, said misconduct really has no effect on me. I sleep no better or worse for them milking the clock a little or misusing their work time. Sure, I’m working hard for less money per hour, so that’s annoying, but is it worth my cortisol levels rising with alarming rate over another person’s chosen acts? No. Not even remotely.
Then someone at work, who has always irritated the daylights out of me, began to get really irritating. Like, significantly more irritating than before (or so I thought). Again, I found myself thinking of asking a superior to somehow lessen this person’s annoying-ness. Ha. See the pattern here? It began to grow. I was watering this evil little seed with my thoughts. Oh yeah, I’ll just say something, maybe even anonymously, and they’ll make that person stop…they’ll fix the situation…they’ll take away what’s annoying me.
Then one day I just realized – it’s me. I’m the annoying situation!
These people have always been the same, these situations relatively unchanging. I just began to take it personally. I made the choice to let this stuff irritate me! The people and the situations remained untouched, completely obvious (save for my stupid, menacing stare) to my annoyance. The only person I was hurting was me.
So, what did I do? I took a page straight out of Byron Katie’s The Work and began to love what is.
I began to realize we will always be faced with these scenarios of utter frustration. It is the way of life. So I choose to take a reasonable approach, to think of this situation in terms of rectifying it, rather than just stewing in the filth that is my own grumbling.
I find myself wondering, what is it about me lately that is conjuring up this irritation? Surely it’s not them. It’s not those people and what they’re doing, it’s not the situations themselves or the fact that I’m in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” I’m the one allowing myself to be ill affected by all of these triggers.
So what are we mere mortals to do in a world where annoying experience run rampant, where people goad us and traffic happens no matter how many curse words we sputter? We must choose not to bite. We must look at that tempting, ooey-gooey cookie of complaining and mental disturbance and say no thanks. As delicious as it can be to surrender, to give in to our subconscious, our lower mind, and just babble on like an angry lunatic over things that, in reality, are really just not that big of a deal…it’s not worth it.
What I realized in my fruitless attempts to mentally change so many people and situations around me, people and situations completely outside my realm of control (as if I even have a realm of control in the first place), is that I was causing myself all sorts of angst and discomfort. I was making my own life miserable by willingly getting into the taxicab to ticked-off-land and paying the driver double!
I realized that this behavior of mine was having no effect on the outside situations or people and was having every effect on me. Negative effects. I was taxing my own nervous system, my adrenals, my precious endocrine system, the sacred space that is my MIND. I was littering my holy temple with CRAP!
So I said ENOUGH.
And I chose kindness. Well, first I had a little taxicab confessional. I found the light and love in each one of those precious, divine, annoying-as-hell little people I’d been so bugged by for so many months. I recognized our humanity, the special space we share, the space all human beings share. We all want to avoid suffering. If nothing else, we can all relate on that level. I began to extend more love and kindness to these people, in increasing dosages. I gradually shifted my behavior towards them, so not to come off as a Jekyll and Hyde looney tune, going from sheer indifference to pure, unadulterated loving acceptance. What I found was, not only did the shift seem to make them feel more appreciated and valued, but it made me feel better. Imagine that!
Sure they still do the irritating things, but I find that it no longer irritates me. I can’t even classify it as “irritating” because it only ever was irritating in the first place due to the lens through which I was perceiving everything. Once I changed the lens, the definition became altogether different. Naturally I’m human and the triggers still tug at my coattails sometimes, but I just smile demurely and repeat the mantra my darling Mumma so often says. Stupid and cheerful. When all else is failing and my irritation is fighting to get the best of me, just be stupid and cheerful. Because what matters more, being right or being kind?
I’m still working on expanding this intention to encapsulate annoying situations too, like horrendous traffic and the dishwasher breaking. It’s more difficult when “the other” is an inanimate object, I’ll admit. But it’s worth trying. It’s worth trying regularly, even religiously. Because it’s a practice, this extension of loving kindness, this observation of compassion. It’s a practice and it is one that I keep not just for the other drivers or the dishwasher or my brilliantly, beautifully, perfectly flawed co-workers…but for myself. I practice for my brilliantly, beautifully, perfectly flawed Self.